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Ghana Government Blamed for Failing to Curb Escalated Violence Ahead of Election

The executive director of the West Africa Media Foundation says political impunity displayed by Ghanaian President John Kufuor's administration should be blamed for the escalated violence ahead of this year's elections. Professor Kwame Karikari says the failure of President Kufuor's administration to deal decisively with the alleged conspirators in the murder of a king and 40 of his elders after seven years in office sets a dangerous precedence that could have significantly contributed to ongoing violence in the country head of this year's general elections.

He blames both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress for fueling ethnic passions that he said help inflame violent clashes between supporters of both parties.

From Ghana's capital, Accra Professor Karikari tells reporter Peter Clottey that there is a need to curb ongoing violence in the country in order to have a peaceful election this year.

"In recent times, there have been a number of incidences related to the election processes. Virtually all of these are incidences that have occurred and perpetrated by the two big parties, the ruling (NPP) party and NDC. Now, in all of these incidences involving violent attacks on individuals and groups, involving the destruction of properties while the police have not arrested anybody. Apart from that since the government came to power, there have been other incidents involving chieftaincy disputes and violence. And the most dramatic was the murder of the king of the Dagbon people in the northern regions of Ghana. He was murdered in cold blood in daytime with 40 other of his people. Up to now, six years later, not one soul has been arrested and charged with those crimes," Karikari pointed out.

He said there was need for President Kufuor's government to curb the ever-increasing violent clashes of rival political parties ahead of the December 2008 election.

"The security people must do their work, these things just don't come up like that. They are related to political parties, and it is possible that sections or factions or groups within these parties are responsible for this violence. The way these things are happening you cannot say that they are necessarily that spontaneous. We can't continue to think that they are spontaneous because there appears to be some orchestration. And so, I'm saying that the intelligence agencies must put their ears to the ground to stop this," he said.

Karikari described as disturbing the failure of the current administration to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators who allegedly conspired to murder the Dagbon king and 40 of his subjects over six years ago.

"It is very difficult for me to know like most citizens, why the government has been so lax and has been so irresponsible in this matter. It's unthinkable for the police to close their eyes to any murder of any citizen at all in this country. It doesn't happen the police always go after such criminals, but this is very baffling and I think it poisons the politics in that region and also helps poison national politics. It is very difficult to understand why the government has behaved the way it has behaved, and that government has also been silent about it," Karikari noted.

Meanwhile, Karikari charged pressure groups as well as Ghanaians to stand up and direct the issue of political violence at the doorstep of President Kufuor's government adding that it would compel the government to be more active in taking actions against lawbreakers.

He also chided the security agencies for not doing enough to bring perpetrators to book, but rather accusing the media of fomenting troubles.